The Jackaw of Rheims



The Jackdaw sat on the Cardinal's chair!
         Bishop, and abbot, and prior were there;
           Many a monk, and many a friar,
           Many a knight, and many a squire,
     With a great many more of lesser degree,--
     In sooth a goodly company;
     And they served the Lord Primate on bended knee.
           Never, I ween,
           Was a prouder seen,
   Read of in books, or dreamt of in dreams,
   Than the Cardinal Lord Archbishop of Rheims!

         In and out
         Through the motley rout,
   That little Jackdaw kept hopping about;
         Here and there
         Like a dog in a fair,
         Over comfits and cates,
         And dishes and plates,
   Cowl and cope, and rochet and pall,
   Mitre and crosier! he hopp'd upon all!
         With saucy air,
         He perch'd on the chair
   Where, in state, the great Lord Cardinal sat
   In the great Lord Cardinal's great red hat;
         And he peer'd in the face
         Of his Lordship's Grace,
   With a satisfied look, as if he would say,
   'We two are the greatest folks here to-day!'
         And the priests, with awe,
         As such freaks they saw,
   Said, 'The Devil must be in that little Jackdaw!'

     The feast was over, the board was clear'd,
   The flawns and the custards had all disappear'd,
   And six little Singing-boys--dear little souls!
   In nice clean faces, and nice white stoles,
         Came, in order due,
         Two by two,
   Marching that grand refectory through!
  A nice little boy held a golden ewer,
   Emboss'd and fill'd with water, as pure
 As any that flows between Rheims and Namur,
   Which a nice little boy stood ready to catch
   In a fine golden hand-basin made to match.
   Two nice little boys, rather more grown,
   Carried lavender-water, and eau de Cologne;
   And a nice little boy had a nice cake of soap,
   Worthy of washing the hands of the Pope.
         One little boy more
         A napkin bore,
   Of the best white diaper, fringed with pink,
   And a Cardinal's Hat mark'd in 'permanent ink.'
   The great Lord Cardinal turns at the sight
   Of these nice little boys dress'd all in white:
         From his finger he draws
         His costly turquoise;
   And, not thinking at all about little Jackdaws,
         Deposits it straight
         By the side of his plate,
   While the nice little boys on his Eminence wait;
   Till, when nobody's dreaming of any such thing,
   That little Jackdaw hops off with the ring!

         There's a cry and a shout,
         And a deuce of a rout,
   And nobody seems to know what they're about,
   But the Monks have their pockets all turn'd inside out.
         The Friars are kneeling,
         And hunting, and feeling
   The carpet, the floor, and the walls, and the ceiling.
         The Cardinal drew
         Off each plum-colour'd shoe,
   And left his red stockings exposed to the view;
         He peeps, and he feels
         In the toes and the heels;
  They turn up the dishes,--they turn up the plates,--
   They take up the poker and poke out the grates,
         --They turn up the rugs,
         They examine the mugs:--
         But, no!--no such thing;--
         They can't find THE RING!
   And the Abbott declared that, 'when nobody twigg'd it,
   Some rascal or other had popp'd in, and prigg'd it!'

     The Cardinal rose with a dignified look,
   He call'd for his candle, his bell, and his book!
       In holy anger, and pious grief,
       He solemnly cursed that rascally thief!
     He cursed him at board, he cursed him in bed;
       From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head;
       He cursed him in sleeping, that every night
      He should dream of the devil, and wake in a fright;
       He cursed him in eating, he cursed him in drinking,
       He cursed him in coughing, in sneezing, in winking;
       He cursed him in sitting, in standing, in lying;
       He cursed him in walking, in riding, in flying,
       He cursed him in living, he cursed him in dying!--
   Never was heard such a terrible curse!
         But what gave rise
        To no little surprise,
  Nobody seem'd one penny the worse!

        The day was gone,
        The night came on,
   The Monks and the Friars they search'd till dawn;
        When the Sacristan saw,
       On crumpled claw,
   Come limping a poor little lame Jackdaw!
         No longer gay,
His feathers all seem'd to be turn'd the wrong way;--
His he
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on April 12, 2023

3:42 min read
120

Quick analysis:

Scheme AABXCCCDDEE FFFAAGGXXAAHHIIJJXKF LLXEMMMBXANNDDOOPPQQRRXXESSSTT FFFFTTTMMMUUGGVVTTWW XXYYZZRRTTTTT1 2 2 1 DDDKKFJJC
Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 4,334
Words 718
Stanzas 6
Stanza Lengths 11, 20, 30, 20, 17, 9

Richard Harris Barham

Richard Harris Barham was an English cleric of the Church of England, novelist, and humorous poet. more…

All Richard Harris Barham poems | Richard Harris Barham Books

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